Tomorrow I will address the pathetically evasive response from Defra to our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting (that gives you a hint as to what I think about it) but you may have noticed that it mentions that there are four pairs of Hen Harrier in England this year.
The existence of the fourth pair has been known to this blog for over five weeks. It’s in the Peak District and is in the general area of the site of our very rainy Hen Harrier Day protest.
So instead of the English Hen Harrier breeding population being at 0.9% of its biological potential we now know that it is at 1.2% of its biological potential – let joy be unconfined! We’re really on a roll!
No doubt this will be front page news – English National Park sees protected bird of prey survive and breed successfully!
The nest was on National Trust land and was found by their tenant Geoff Eyre. Now Geoff Eyre has been feted by the shooting community and is a recipient of the ‘prestigious’ Purdey Award. Mr Eyre has ‘a passion for all wildlife’ and so we can only imagine his joy at finding a nest of Hen Harriers on his grouse moor. What was the expression on his face as he looked down on the cute little Hen Harriers? Did he want to give them a big cuddle? We understand that this particular area has not had the benefit of a gamekeeper’s presence this year otherwise, no doubt (no doubt at all), the ‘keeper would have been cuddling the Hen Harriers too.
See this link for an image of Mr Eyre smiling broadly – presumably at the thought of a Hen Harrier nesting on ‘his’ grouse moor. Let joy be unconfined! If My Eyre would like to tell us all exactly how he felt when he found the Hen Harrier nest then he is welcome to a Guest Blog here.
Mr Eyre lives and works in an area of the Peak District National Park that has been regarded as a black spot for raptor persecution for many years. It has been the subject of reports documenting the poor breeding success of birds of prey in this general area (see here and here). In fact, Mr Eyre’s former gamekeeper, Glenn Brown, was convicted of a wildlife offence not that long ago and the judge in the case gave Mr Eyre a bit of a ticking off too.
It is good to hear that the young Hen Harriers fledged from this nest have been fitted with satellite tags so that their travels can be monitored. Let’s hope that their travels can be followed in real time (perhaps with a few days delay) on this website. And let’s hope that they don’t share the fate of so many other tagged Hen Harriers, such as Bowland Betty, and end their days shot.
Considering the fantastic BTO Cuckoo-tracking study allows us to see that ‘our’ Cuckoos are in Mali, or Italy, or wherever they are in real time, it remains unacceptable that the NE Hen Harrier tagging project remains so secretive about the movements of Hen Harriers 12 years after it started -12 years! The shutters came down completely on this study once the Conservative-Liberal coalition came into ‘power’ – it’s probably a coincidence, and probably nothing to do with NE not wanting to irritate their grouse moor-owning Minister of the time, Richard Benyon (ex GWCT trustee).
In the days of Labour (remember them?), NE published a hard-hitting report on Hen Harriers which alluded to the early results of the Hen Harrier tracking study but that was in 2008. Since then this publicly-funded study has been remarkably unforthcoming about the movements and fate of the tagged birds. Are they still disappearing at autumn roosts as they were in 2008? We should be told.